In the current economic downturn, much attention has been paid to the volatile stock market and efforts to overhaul financial regulations. But there's another market out there that some say is even riskier for potential investors — the art market.
Critics say a lack of oversight in the art market permits manipulation — by dealers who can artificially inflate auction prices, for example. But others argue that the value of art isn't determined by money — that the art world isn't an industry and shouldn't be treated as such.
A panel of six experts recently argued both sides in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. The motion for the Feb. 3 debate was: "The Art Market Is Less Ethical Than the Stock Market."
Three experts argued in favor of the motion; three against. Before the debate, the audience at The Rockefeller University in New York City voted 32 percent in favor of the motion and 30 percent against, with 38 percent undecided. By the end of the debate, those arguing for the motion had changed the most minds: 55 percent voted in favor of the proposition, while 33 percent voted against it and 12 percent were still undecided.
John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline, was moderator for the evening. Those debating were:
FOR THE MOTION
Richard L. Feigen, the founder of Richard L. Feigen & Co. art dealers, is an active collector of early Italian and Baroque paintings, English landscapes, surrealists, Max Beckmann and contemporary art. He is the author of Tales from the Art Crypt.
Michael Hue-Williams is owner and CEO of Albion Gallery, the only gallery in London to incorporate a major global program that represents leading international artists, including those from emerging markets. Their roster includes artists from Africa, China, India, Japan, Pakistan and Taiwan, as well as many other places.
Adam Lindemann is an influential collector of contemporary art and author of Collecting Contemporary, which was published in four languages. He is an investor and entrepreneur with a background in industries from energy and communications to real estate and asset management.
AGAINST THE MOTION
Amy Cappellazzo was appointed deputy chairman at Christie's in January of 2008 and has been the international co-head of Post-War and Contemporary Art since 2001. She has been named in the top 15 of ArtReview's list of the 100 most important people in the art world.
Chuck Close's work has been the subject of more than 150 solo exhibitions, including many major museum retrospectives, and he has participated in almost 800 group exhibitions. Close was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 2000, the New York State Governor's Art Award and the Skowhegan Medal for arts, among many other honors.
Jerry Saltz is senior art critic for New York magazine. He is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. He has lectured at Harvard, The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and many other institutions. He teaches at Columbia University, The School of Visual Arts and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.